Chapter 1


Checker
By Jenna Melanson



The morning sunrays didn't give much warmth as Checker stretched yet farther on the cool sand.  He was a Spotted Whiptail lizard so he always had to keep watch for prowling two legs.  He lived in an old rusty barrel by a barn with a paddock.  Or at least that was where he was staying until he would go back to the Great Tunnels where all the other lizards lived.  Inside the paddock lived a big charging beast with four huge feet.  Today he was planning to meet his best friend (who was a large Spiny lizard) in front of the two leg den and then have a fun day in the cactus garden.  He knew that his friend lived by the Biology building (how he got his name, Biology Guardian, BG for short) so he would soon arrive at their meeting place.  Although they both usually lived in the tunnels they thought it fun to go on adventures.  So Checker set out on the long trek to the two leg den.
  
         As he crested the final hill he noticed that BG had already arrived.  “Hey B-“  but he stopped as he heard a terrible roar from behind.  He whirled around to come face to face with a two leg’s smoke-belching metal monster!  Instinct put in and he leapt to the side of the road. As it roared past him smell of diesel fuel and grit hit him.  Suddenly from the direction the monster had gone a horrible screeching.  A door on the monster opened and a two leg kid came out.  It started screeching and spitting strange words.  Checker hoped it had said- “Oh, look at that pretty bush over there!”  But it obviously hadn’t, Checker stood numb with fear as a huge hand swept down, snatched him up and dropped him in a glass case.  BG leapt towards him, more screeches from the two leg.  Checker hoped it had said-“I won’t take the spiny.”  But he knew he was wrong when he saw BG enclosed by a huge net.  Soon he felt BG’s huge weight crushing into the bottom of the case.  Geroff me!  Checker yelled in a muffled voice.  BG leapt off of him.  As soon as BG turned around to face him Checker let out a terrified squeak and whispered so quietly that BG could hardly hear him, “where are we and how did we get here?  I don’t know  but I think we are in a two leg’s monster.”  Indeed, now that they weren’t talking Checker could hear the roar of the monster.  “We have to get out of here!” cried Checker.  “Well you know what spineys do best.”, said BG, looking up.  A huge hand was reaching in to the case to grab him!  He cowered to the side, but BG stood his ground firmly, his broad shoulders broader than ever.  “NO!” screamed Checker as the hand enclosed over his friend!  Suddenly Checker heard a high pitched screech from above.  He looked up to see BG’s jaws clamped tightly on the two leg’s finger!  The two leg screeched, flailing its finger, but BG hung on tightly.  The bumping stopped with a jolt, and the two leg still grasping the case jumped out of the monster.  Sunlight  filtered into the glass warming the terrified Checker.  Suddenly the case began to tip, Checker scrambled to keep from falling out of the jar to the ground far below.  He slipped out of the jar. He felt himself  falling , falling farther and farther until he hit the ground with a thud.  He was knocked senseless, he woke to hear BG shouting, “Checker ,Checker get up, fast! We got to go, hurry!”  He leapt to his feet and ran alongside BG.  “That way, into that  cactus!”  As the cactus loomed up before them they heard their former captor thundering in pursuit!  They scrambled into safety just in the knick of time.  As their enemy saw the cactus his mouth opened in surprise and he let out a scream as sharp thorns dug into his skin. He ran away yelping.  “How clumsy.” Muttered BG.  But Checker had turned, “Where are we?”  The land around was completely different from that they knew.  “They must have taken us away from home!”  Shouted angrily.  “We have to get home to our families!  But which way?  How about this way?”  Suggested Checker, pointing to their right.  So they headed off to the North ,going the exact opposite direction the needed to go.
  
             The next morning Checker rose early and walked around to shake away the drowsiness that still hung over him.  Something rose in front of him like nothing he had ever seen before.  It had strange symbols that said something like “BOSQUE DEL APACHE” He had no idea what this meant for he could not read English , but he knew they were heading in the wrong  because they had not passed it in the two leg’s monster.  He set of quickly to tell BG.  When he arrived BG was awake , he had made two bows, a large longbow and a small recurve.  There were to quivers, Checker took the smaller arrows and the recurve and slung them over his shoulder and ran of to where BG was banging on something.  “ Hi Checker” said BG, “try on this new sword sheath I made for you.  It fit quite perfectly, and it felt especially balanced when he put on the sword BG handed him.  The sword was made of pure bronze, Checker thanked BG and then told him of his findings.   And by mid noon they were back were the two legs had dropped them .  They ventured back to the cactus where they had hidden , but Checker’s ears picked up a hissing. ”BG”  he yelled just in the nick of time to dodge a large spitting ,hissing snake from sinking its jaws into him.  In less than a second Checkers sword was whirling lashing at the snake from every angle. However they did not that another snake lay hungrily in wait, hidden in the dense bushes.  It waited, biding it’s time, suddenly it jumped forth and was upon the already weakened lizards.  But Checker was not the greatest warrior of the tunnel for nothing, he swept over to the snake, sending it lashing blow after lashing blow, the look on it’s unintelligent changed from absolute smuggeness to complete cowardice.  But the first snake was not done yet, it leapt upon them, it’s huge tail sweeping back and forth, together the two snakes beat them back.  Normally they would have been thinking about how unusual it was for these unintelligent creatures to work together but now they were too busy paring the snakes rabid attacks.  Things were now looking horrible, two small lizards, against two enormous snakes.  Suddenly a huge bald eagle swooped in, catching the snakes in its talons and  them in the air, letting them fall down to the ground in a place at least 20 yards away.  They could have come back but they knew better.  “My name is Moonfeather Watcher of the animals, I keep order in the animals of this region ,and I can bring you towards home .  But only to the end of my territory, from there on out  you are on your own.  Climb on to my back and I will  take you there.”  “Where exactly is there?  Asked BG.  “Where the great birds live.  They are huge, they come only in the winter so it will be more dangerous now that they are here.”  “We have weapons.” BG replied, although he looked nervous.  They climbed onto the great birds back and made themselves comfortable among her feathers.  Suddenly she swooped into the air, at first Checker felt dizzy but then he got used to it he began to like it, the wonderful soaring feeling and the swoops and dives and the spiraling climbs.  Although BG did NOT seem to think it was so much fun, when she told them they were going down BG was almost sick.  They landed a bit away from the big birds, but unluckily a huge bird was wondering towards them, suddenly it was on top of the unlucky Moonfeather.  When finally they left she was left on the ground, injured.  “Are you all right ?” Checker asked.  “ I think they broke my wing,” she whispered.  “Then you will have to come with us to be healed in our home.” Said Checker.  “No I must return to the council!” she said.  She bickered like this until they convinced her that she must come with them.  Finally they cautiously set forth, BG supporting Moonfeather, even though he did this she still had a heavy limp.  They skirted the edge of the huge birds slowly.  Just when they had started releasing their tense muscles and talking to each other again, BG shouted   “Get under that bush!”  Just as they scampered under the bush a huge monster jumped towards the birds, suddenly seeing them, the monster stopped and said, “Surprised to see the lizards are still alive, I thought the people were beginning to kill them because they were causing to much trouble.”  “ How would you know?” retorted BG.  “ Some lizard told me that some horrible stuff got in the great tunnels and in their water, and he saw some human thing dumping it there.” Giving one another frightened looks they turned and pulled Moonfeather with them, their families lived in the great tunnels.   
    
     Checker hung his head low and pushed on to the top of the hill.  They had been traveling for a week and they hadn’t had food for almost 3 days.  He opened his eyes expecting to see more unfamiliar land, but instead a more welcoming sight greeted his slitted eyes, it was a familiar bend and then a large tunnel entrance.  They hurried in, it was even big enough for Moonfeather to fit in.  They did not meet any lizards as they headed to the infirmary.  Once they had dropped of Moonfeather they hurried to their homes. As they walked in to their sisters hurried in. “OH! Your all right!”  And she launched in to a magnificent tale of how a car crashed dumping gas in the tunnel, killing food and poisoning water.  When they told their tale, they gasped in all the right places.  Especially when Checker fought the snake.  Even though they already knew he was the best swordsman in the tunnels and the best bowman.  Finally they decided to go see Moonfeather.  She was glad to meet them and was pleased to meet their sisters.  She said that she felt much better but they could tell that she was lying to make them feel better.  Suddenly a cry rang out,”emergeny, another poisoned and in rushed some lizards carrying a limp lizard.  “I think we should leave.” said Checker’s sister.  They explained as they headed to their room that another lizard had been poisoned by the gasoline.” That’s horrible.” Said Checker, “We must do something.” “ That is just the fact, said a voice behind them.  There is nothing that we can do.  Only the humans can clean up the mess that they’ve made, but you know how close to the surface the tunnels are, the humans would smash them.”  Checker whirled around to see  Headmaster Lionwick of the tunnels standing before him.  “Checker I am so pleased to see that you have returned safely.  You must tell me what happened, but first come to my study and have something to eat, you look dead on your feet.  You come along as well Mr.Gaurdian ( this is BG’s last name).
          
      A few minutes later they were sitting enjoying a warm cup of tea with juniper muffins.  Wiping crumbs from his chin  the headmaster said ,”now that you are both well fed you’d better tell me what happened.”  “Well first of all we were going to the cactus garden for the – “ I already know that!” said Lionwick shunning them quickly.  “ But after that what happened?”  He asked them eagerly.  Checker launched into a story of fighting snakes, flying on birds and finally reaching home.  Checker admitted it sounded like a fairy tale were they were the heroes, but he swore that it was all true.  Well then if your little story is true then we know who spilt the gasoline.  “How?” asked BG.  “If what you said about that crazy human was true,” continued Lionwick, “ then your little two leg crashed, because of those thorns.”  “Then it’s our fault?”  Said Checker feeling sick to his stomach.  “Far from it.” Said the headmaster.  “It’s the stupid human’s fault it ran into a cactus.  Or perhaps you used super power to make it run into the cactus as a little joke?”  He answered laughingly.  “ And now I presume you are both thoroughly exhausted, and I think it was about time you headed to bed.” They stood up sleepily to walk out the door when suddenly the nurse, Miss Honey burst in,” That dreadful eagle must go, even if it did save their lives, (she gestured to Checker and BG,) it’s scaring all my patients!”
"I ‘m sure these two young men wouldn’t mind housing her if she’s well enough ?”  “Well enough?” answered the nurse, “ she’s tried escape at least 20 times I say!”
    
    About five minutes later they entered their quarters happy to be at home at long last.  They showed Moonfeather where she could sleep and slumped in to their beds and they finally got the well earned sleep they deserved.                                    
    The next morning Checker woke somewhat refreshed, he walked into the dining hall, and just as he was sitting down he heard the danger siren go of just then the assistant nurse Miss Duch came running through supporting another poisoned lizard with the help of two burly spinies.  Suddenly the full brunt of how serious this was and how many casualties there were seemed to hit Checker full in the face, suddenly an idea swept over him like a tidal wave.  But with it came a chilling cold, would they really have to do this?

    Fifteen minutes later Checker accompanied by BG knocked furtively on Headmaster Lionwick’s door.  A moment later he came out looking quite sleepy, as though surprised to see them there so early, yet pleased of their presence.  “We can come back later if you want headmaster.” said Checker uncertainly.  “No need.” said Lionwick.  “Come in.”  Checker started out “ Professor I was wondering if I could tell you my idea about solving our problem, it’s probably already accured to you but I think we should migrate away from here.”  ”That was my idea said Lionwick,”I just didn’t know how to tell everyone, but I think you do.”  A stunned silence followed. “All right, agreed Checker,” alright I’ll give it a try.”  

    The next morning Checker woke happily, but his happiness quickly drained away when Headmaster Lionwick came in to tell him that he was to deliver the speech after breakfast that morning.  BG asked him whether or not he was crazy, delivering a speech just because the Headmaster was to scared to do it himself.
 
     After breakfast he walked over to the Headmaster who was sitting at the high table with all the other eight  professors.  “Now is the time,”  whispered Lionwick urgently.  Checker walked numbly to the front of the crowd, everyone stopped eating to look at him,” so what do you want runt?” asked a huge side-blotched lizard who looked formidable.  “ Think about it,” Checker started uncertainly, how many lizards have been poisoned by gasoline so far?”  “At least twenty!”  burst out Honey, the nurse.  “ Exactly, “ Checker continued.  “ So why do we stay?  The thing is that we can’t, or we’ll die!” Silence followed this.  Suddenly a lizard burst out, “ Let me get this straight, our ancestors lived here for hundreds of years and now because of some stupid little runty lizard we’re going to leave?”  Checker identified the lizard as the nasty Side- Blotched.  Shouts of “ Yeah, and Why should we?” rang through the huge hall.  Lion wick looked  crestfallenly upon them.  He beckoned to Checker to follow him to his study.

     Minutes later Checker looked numbly at his toes.  “ I ‘m  sorry He mumbled.”  “ You shouldn’t be.” said the headmaster but  you partially succeeded.  “The hardest is done, “ he continued.  “ Now all you need to do is enforce it and make agree with it, they they now have a small idea nagging at they mind, and you put it there Checker, you put it there.”
 
     A few minutes later Checker sat in the puffiest armchair my the warm fire, brooding upon what Lionwick had told him.  If it was true, and all the lizards were now snuggled tightly in their beds, thinking about what he had said, then maybe , just maybe, they would start to notice he was right.  But then a horrible feeling came over him, what if he was not right and it was better if they stayed.  But then again, how could he be wrong?  After all they had to leave or else be overcome by the poisoning, which was already causing devastation.  As he thought about this, his two sides fighting over weather he was right or not, he watched the flames, and slowly, ever so slowly they lulled him in to a deep sleep, and before he knew it horrible images were flashing in head.  Images of the gasoline, poor helpless lizards being poisoned, and he knew he had done the right thing in telling them their only possibility.  But then the dream changed, there was a laughing, jeering crowd in front of him.  He had been wrong! They were attacking him, pushing him.  “ Checker! Checker!” they shouted. The call wrang in his head.  “Checker!” it wasn’t just in his head, it was BG!  He woke with a start, BG hung over him, his face grim with anxiety.  “Checker get up! It’s the headmaster he’s ill and he needs to talk to you!”  Checker was out of bed in an instant, a cloak buckled around his shoulders tightly.

      Checker flew in the door no more than 20 seconds later, even though it was a long haul from his room to the professor’s private room.  He was not fast enough to get there in time, although he heard Lionwicks last words, and they were these, You are the only one who can help them now.  Though they were few, Checker knew just what they meant.  Although it would be hard he knew he must fulfill  them.

     The next morning as he walked into the dining area odd whispering followed him everywhere.  Finally the huge side-blotched lizard that had insulted him before came up,” I’m sorry about what I said, I reckon you were right after all.” He said nervously as though he thought that Checker would still be angry and explode on him.  However just said” an , it’s okay, I reckon I shouldn’t have sprung it like that so quick.” The huge lizard grinned and wandered off, Checker suspected he was going of to tell his friends that he wasn’t angry at them.

     Even as he walked down the hall to his room he noticed many lizards looking at him and whispering behind their hands.  He met up with BG at the stair case leading to his room.  “I think your finally starting to get their attention.” Said BG.  “I think I am, he said, now all I have to do is keep it, and I think it is because of what happened to the headmaster.”

     Over the next week nobody looked at Checker as though he were demented, the looked at him with what many would have interpreted as respect.  They seemed to notice that bad things were happening when the professor had been poisoned.
 
     Over the next week Checker heard many apologies from lizards who had thought him to be wrong.  With everyone saying they were sorry Checker knew it was time to try again.

     The next morning he went to the dining area feeling as though his stomach was full of lead.  He walked up to the front and silence fell over the hall, this time it wasn’t nervous silence, it was an expecting silence.  He started uncertainly,“ So I’ve been thinking about it and I was thinking that maybe I should try to tell you again, after all the horrible things that have happened to us in the past week.  I hope you’ve all thought about what I said last week, and I have decided that I shall leave tomorrow at noon, any who would like to come should only meet me at the eastern entrance tomorrow.”  And with that he left the dining area without a word. The whole night he had horrible dreams about nobody coming with him not even BG.  He woke with a start it was late.  He grabbed a bag and began stuffing clothes into it, he put on his belt and sword grabbed his quiver and bow and started to the kitchens to get some food, but when he got there all the cooks were packing food.  “We are all coming.” Announced the head cook, Violet.  “Great!”  replied Checker.  As Moonfeather had now made a full recovery she thought that she was in debt with them for helping her, (technically she thought they saved her life even though it had been them who brought her there in the first place!) had decided to come with them.  That noon Checker sat at the eastern entrance watching the babbling crowd grow rapidly.  After a few hours it seemed that perhaps everyone was there.  Checker spoke out loudly,” Thank you for coming, as you all know, we are going on a journey to find a new home!”  “We also have something else to say, shouted a familiarly large  side-blotched, we think that you should be the successor of our dearest Headmaster Lionwick!  Do you except this offer of gratitude?”  Checker stood numb for a few moments then said “ it is my great honor to say that I except this offer.”  There was a defining roar as the lizards shouted and screamed in joy.  “Now let us set forth to a new home and a new life!!!” And with that he turned and lead the cheering group of lizards over the hill in to the setting sun.  
                                              To be continued...

                               



©2008 by Jenna Melanson, All Rights Reserved
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